AT&T and DirecTV Will Let Users Dump the Dish and Stream TV Content

By the end of 2016, AT&T and DirecTV will offer three ways that customers can stream DirecTV video over wired or wireless connections.

AT&T, DirecTV, streaming TV, streaming video, smartphones, tablets, satellite dish, wireless Internet, DirecTV Now

AT&T and DirecTV customers will be able to dump their satellite dishes and receive a wide range of video content via wired or wireless Internet streaming on any device under new services that are expected to launch by the end of 2016.

The mobile carrier and its satellite TV unit unveiled the coming offerings in an announcement on March 1.

Under three options, customers will be able to get a multitude of DirecTV Now packages that contain various assortments of content similar to DirecTV content today, DirecTV Mobile packages that they can view anywhere or DirecTV Preview packages with ad-supported free content, according to the companies.

The packages will work over a wired or wireless Internet connection from any provider on a smartphone, tablet, smart TV, streaming media hardware or PC. The services will allow several users to view content over simultaneous sessions, and they will not require annual contracts, satellite dishes or set-top boxes, according to AT&T.

The services are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of the year.

"These new video subscription models reflect the flexible content choices, viewing options and simple, transparent pricing that consumers want. AT&T intends to be the first company to deliver that flexibility, along with an effortless customer experience," John Stankey, CEO of the AT&T Entertainment Group, said in a statement. "These offers will provide a broad range of customers with greater freedom and choice to watch, binge and even buy premium content, regardless of how and where they enjoy their entertainment."

Stankey said that AT&T is developing the new services after hearing from users who want more content than they are getting from existing streaming services and from others who can't get or afford traditional pay-TV services. "We intend to offer customers a quality pay-TV experience, including top channels, sports and more, with increased value and flexibility of pure online streaming and no need for home installation."

AT&T says it will continue to offer DirecTV satellite TV services even when the new streaming services begin, and customers will be able to continue to access programming on virtually all mobile devices as they do today. AT&T also will continue to offer its U-verse TV and Internet services.

The DirecTV Now packages will include on-demand and live programming from many networks, plus premium add-on options, and will be available for use after downloading an app and signing up for an account.

The DirecTV Mobile services will be available for users who want to watch premium video and made-for-digital content directly on a smartphone, regardless of the wireless provider. They also can view the content immediately after installing an app and signing up.

The free DirecTV Preview offering will showcase content from AT&T's AUDIENCE Network, many networks and other content sources, and Millennial-focused video from Otter Media, a joint venture of AT&T and The Chernin Group.

AT&T presently streams more than 60 million streams and downloads to its TV customers each month, according to the company.

AT&T acquired DirecTV for $48.5 billion in July 2015 after having pursued the merger since May 2014, according to an earlier eWEEK story. In August 2015, AT&T began offering $500 in credits per line to DirecTV customers who transferred their mobile services over to AT&T from a competing carrier.

AT&T's move to offer enhanced deals to bring over DirecTV customers to grow its own subscriber base was part of the company's vision for making the acquisition in the first place. The merger turned AT&T into a bigger player with its hands in more markets and a ready pool of new prospects to bring into its business coffers.

In January, AT&T began ramping up its efforts to get customers to also sign up for its DirecTV or U-Verse TV programming subscription services by offering them unlimited data on their AT&T mobile phone accounts so they can watch videos or TV shows anywhere. The new AT&T Unlimited Plan starts at $100 monthly for the first smartphone, $40 each monthly for the next two smartphones on an account, and no charge for monthly service on a fourth smartphone, for a total of $180 per month for four family members, according to an earlier eWEEK story.